One day you’re walking through the shopping centre as normal, then the next day, WHAM!
Not just Wham, but Mariah Carey, Michael Buble and a host of others singing Christmas favourites. I think I first heard Christmas music playing as the soundtrack to my shopping experience back in late October this year.
For those who enjoy the music of the season, you’ve probably had a good couple of months of ever-increasing Christmas melodies ringing in your ears. For those who don’t, you won’t have to block your ears much longer.
I’ve got over five hundred Christmas songs on my iPod and they’ve been filling our home and car with Yuletide cheer … whatever that is … for weeks. Everyone from Michael Buble to Diana Krall, Bing Crosby, Run DMC, Barry White, The Wiggles, Guy Sebastian, Jimmy Barnes and even Russel Coight, along with many others, are singing about Christmas on our stereo.
What is your favourite Christmas music?
Do you have a favourite Christmas song? Do you have a favourite artist at Christmas time? Does Mariah Carey’s very successful Christmas album still get a spin at your place each December?
A few of my favourites.
I couldn’t possibly fit all my Christmas favourites in one post, but here is a handful.
I’m not a huge fan of the song Little Drummer Boy but I am a fan of both Bing Crosby and David Bowie so I love hearing their Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth medley around this time every year. The chat at the start of the video is cheesy and somewhat awkward but I just love it.
A new favourite this year is a reworking of the old Slade classic, Merry Christmas Everybody. Yes, I’ll admit it. I do enjoy a little Robbie Williams. I’m also a fan of Jamie Cullum so this combination is just joyful.
One of the strangest Christmas songs ever released has got to be this one by Bob Dylan. Bob is definitely a favourite of mine and so this one’s certainly worth a mention and a viewing. It seems that everyone in the video is having an amazing time, except Bob. It’s weird and wonderful.
This collaboration between Elvis Costello and Stephen Colbert is just wonderful.
I certainly feel that friends don’t let friends go through life without knowing about the great Gregory Porter, so I absolutely must include a song from one of the greatest voices of our time.
While I could go on forever with Christmas favourites, maybe I’ll finish off with this one from Diana Krall.
Let me know about your musical tastes around Christmas.
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RetroRadio is a series of posts of radio interviews from my time working at 98five Sonshine FM covering everything from issues of spirituality to chats with visiting musicians and celebrities.
Hopefully, the interviews spark a few memories and a few thoughts.
These days he’s the newest coach on hit television show, The Voice Australia, but since bursting onto our screens and winning the first series of Australian Idol back in 2003, Guy Sebastian has amassed an amazing list of accomplishments.
He has performed alongside and in front of some of the biggest names in the music business, won a swag of awards and was Australia’s representative at the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest.
Back in my radio days, I had a number of opportunities to chat with Guy. Here are a couple of those interviews.
Firstly, here’s an interview from October 2007. Guy was just about to release his Memphis Album. The wonderful thing about that album was that Guy enlisted the help of top soul musicians such as Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Steve Potts, Lester Snell, Dave Smith, Rick Steff, Jim Spake, Kirk Smothers, Scott Thompson and Howard Lamb.
Many of those musicians wrote and recorded the original versions of the songs on the album with the likes of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Al Green and Wilson Pickett and were members of the MGs, playing with Booker T, and the Blues Brothers Band. Steve Cropper, who co-wrote In The Midnight Hour, Knock On Wood, and (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, also produced the album with Guy.
I remember having a representative of the record company in the studio during our interview. She gasped when Guy revealed that some of those giants of the industry would be his backing band for a tour early in 2008.
The only downside of having Guy live in the studio was that he had a terrible flu, which I then managed to catch.
Listen to what he had to say about his music all those years ago using the media player below.
In October 2009 I had the opportunity to catch up with Guy again. Once again we talked about his musical journey and his album at the time, Like it Like That.
Once again he was a delight to interview. I was particularly encouraged, and a little embarrassed, by his final words to me in the interview. I guess he enjoyed the interview as much as I did.
Just click play and enjoy another catch up with Guy Sebastian.
[Note: All RetroRadio interviews on RodneyOlsen.net are a snapshot of the time they were recorded. We all grow and change and so the opinions and thoughts of those in the interviews at the time of recording may or may not necessarily be the same as they are today.]
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Are you someone who thinks for yourself or do you just go with the flow? Are you prepared to move in a different direction to the crowd around you?
We’d all like to think we’re the kind of person that thinks for ourself and makes our own decisions, but experience would suggest that we often just toe the line without even knowing it.
Would you like a dollar off a record?
My first paid job was standing in the Hay Street Mall, at the time the main pedestrian mall in Perth, quietly handing out advertising vouchers for a record shop.
Each voucher offered one dollar off the price of an LP record or cassette at Wesley Records, just behind Wesley Church on the corner of Hay and William Streets. It was back in the days when it was all still vinyl albums and audio cassettes. The Compact Disc wouldn’t hit shelves for another five years.
With the minimum employment age being 15, I would have only worked the job for the handful of months between my birthday in July and starting my cooking apprenticeship in December 1978. I worked on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. I remember picking up some extra work during school holidays too.
What might have been a spectacularly mundane job, passing out small pieces of paper to passers-by, actually taught me a lot about people. I learned how to ‘read people’ to some degree to ensure I gave out as many vouchers as possible.
I learned that people will follow the example of others without thinking and without realising. Those they would follow would be nameless others in a crowd that they didn’t know and would probably never see again.
I used to stand just in the mall near the traffic lights on the corner of Hay and William Streets. A crowd would build on the other side of the road, waiting for the WALK sign to light up. As soon as it did the group would start heading in my direction and I’d have to pick someone to be the first one offered a voucher. That choice would determine whether I would manage to quickly distribute thirty record shop vouchers … or none.
FOMO isn’t something new.
If the first person I approached was happy to take a voucher, I was more or less assured that I could hand one to almost every other person in that group. In fact, there were times when people who saw others take a voucher would be so afraid of missing out, they’d line up to grab one before heading down the mall.
If the first person I offered a voucher politely declined, so would everyone else unless I could quickly find a second person who would go against the flow and take one.
Interestingly, it went further than that.
If I copped some kind of abuse from my first choice recipient, I would get a heap more from everyone else in the crowd. One snarly person would create a small angry mob, each one more incensed than the last that I dared offer them a discount.
Not knowing what I was handing out, some would assume it was ‘religious material’ and would decline saying that they had their own religion. Of course when that happened, many in the following group would tell me the same thing.
Some shoppers would suggest ‘shoving the vouchers’ in impolite places with so, so many others thinking that it was funny to say that they couldn’t read. (I’m sure that each one was convinced that they’d been the first one to use that line.)
Making the choice.
There would be a fresh group of people waiting to cross the road every few minutes so I got pretty good at picking my first ‘target’ each time. Looking at faces, body language, and clothing, as well as relying on a gut feeling, I could distribute a heap of vouchers before heading back to the record store to grab another bundle.
Without anyone else knowing it, I would be secretly conspiring with some random person to help me do my job. Not even they knew they were part of the plan. I was a teenage profiler. I could work the crowd to get what I wanted.
So who’s really thinking for you?
I’ve thought about those days a lot over the years. If a 15-year-old boy can manipulate people at a basic level like that, what hope do we have against the sophisticated machinations of those who spend their days attempting to shape our thoughts and lives?
I’m not a conspiracy theorist who thinks that the government or some secret society is manipulating us all but I do think we need to employ critical thinking skills to ensure we don’t end up as simply another pawn in someone else’s game.
When we buy something is it because we need it or because we’ve just been played? Who made the decision, the marketing company or us?
When we reply to a post on social media, chat with friends about politics or consider spiritual matters, are we speaking from reasoned thought or are we ‘taking the voucher’ because we just saw someone else take one?
Even with all the available information in our grasp, we can still be swayed by elements beyond our control.
Knowledge isn’t enough. We need wisdom.
Wisdom has been described as being a combination of knowledge, understanding, experience, common sense and insight. That’s a good place to start but biblical wisdom goes further. It lets us lean on the Creator of the universe to guide us and direct our path.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. – James 3:17 (ESV)
The good news is that we can have access to that kind of wisdom simply by asking for it.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. – James 1:5 (NLT)
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